Her dreams last night had been red dreams, that was all she could say. Not red like blood, more like the red of the first tulips, a shock of color that blasts away the cold and the pale pastels of crocuses and daffodils. Red dreams, traveling dreams. Dreams with a map.
In the daylight, she sorted through statistics as if it were her job. The graphs, the rising line, the maps (maps!) that showed what was going on in different shades of blue. When her phone beeped, she checked to see if it was her sister, but it wasn’t.
Three months ago she had been in Disneyworld. Disneyworld had closed two days after she rode on the teacups, which she’d dreamed of doing when she was a child, when she and her sister had watched the Mickey Mouse Club and had practiced having crushes on Spin and Marty. They had played a pretend game in which they were dropped off at the Triple R ranch, where Spin and Marty taught them how to ride horses and they sat around campfires. The teacups had been featured in the commercial breaks, eternally whirling. She had remembered them as rising into the sky, and was disappointed when she climbed into one of them with her grandsons to find that they stayed on the ground.
The mail continued to come and she became used to letting it lie on the floor in a designated spot for three days.
She hadn’t seen her sister for eight weeks. The last time they had talked in her sister’s office, laughing about what a colleague had said. She couldn’t remember what it was that had been funny. Her sister’s face on the computer screen was unknowable. She refused for some reason to sit close enough to the light. Talking to her in this way was like praying to the saints, as she had done when she was a child, dependent on their backstory as recorded in her school copy of Lives of the Saints, stories of conversion, acts of charity, ecstatic death. In the dimness of her sister’s virtual living room, the distant lamp shone on her hair like a halo.
In the red dream, she thought there had been a man and a child, unknown to her, trying to get somewhere. She was supposed to help them, but had no skills that were useful in this red world. The red of the dream was like lava, fiery and alive, melting the rock of the world away as it moved, flowing around the crisp and blackened bits of things that people had loved.
Mary Grimm has had two books published, Left to Themselves (novel) and Stealing Time (story collection) — both by Random House, and a number of flash pieces in places like Helen, The Citron Review, and Tiferet. Currently, she is working on a dystopian novel about oldsters. She teaches fiction writing at Case Western Reserve University.